15 Now rally calls for higher wages, unity on campus

A protest led by 15 Now drew a crowd of 200 on and near campus.

Protesters take to the streets on East Bank on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Students and faculty rallied to demand raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Chris Dang

Protesters take to the streets on East Bank on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Students and faculty rallied to demand raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Olivia Johnson

Holding high red banners, a chanting crowd of about 200 demonstrators marched across campus in support of a $15 minimum wage Tuesday.

Organized by 15 Now, the protest started at Coffman Memorial Union at 4 p.m., where speakers called for unity across various backgrounds. For about ten minutes, the crowd moved inside the building before marching to McDonald’s in Dinkytown. There, demonstrators held a rally that ended at 6:30 p.m.

Police closed off the roads at 4th Street SE and 15th Avenue SE, where protesters led chants like “Fifteen now” and “Students united will never be defeated.” Throughout the roughly 45-minute rally, demonstrators took turns speaking on a megaphone, denouncing president-elect Donald Trump and calling for social justice.

First-year history and political science student, Chris Peterson, handed out flyers at the protest for Students for Revolutionary Socialism.

“It’ll help me pay off my student loans,” he said of a $15 minimum wage. “Pretty soon the politicians in charge will recognize this.”

The large campus turnout shows that students care about social issues, Peterson said.

Biology senior Kelly Popham helped organize the protest with the student organization Socialist Alternative Club.

“I think that it’s ridiculous,” said Popham, who has been involved with 15 Now for six months. “We’re paying people poverty wages,” adding that she wants the Minneapolis City Council to listen to protesters’ demands.

Linguistic junior Stacey Alfaro said she was involved in the protest because she thinks people aren’t given enough opportunities.

“I have a single father with three other siblings,” she said. “He doesn’t have the education to get more than minimum wage.”

As she handed out posters in support of the movement, 2015 University alum Nina Perkins said one of 15 Now’s priorities is to make the issue a ballot measure.

“I think that the minimum wage should be an actual living wage,” she said. “It would mean I could actually pay my rent.”